Burghardt,, Walter J. 1914-2008 (Walter John Burghardt)

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Burghardt,, Walter J. 1914-2008 (Walter John Burghardt)


See index for CA sketch: Born July 10, 1914, in New York, NY; died of congestive heart failure, February 16, 2008, in Merion Station, PA. Priest, theologian, preacher, broadcaster, educator, historian, author, and editor. Burghardt entered the Jesuit order (the Society of Jesus) as a teenager in 1931, and spent his life as a Roman Catholic priest without ever confining himself to a parish priesthood. His congregation of choice was the world at large, and he traveled it widely, preaching the word of God in religious retreats and on radio programs, teaching theology at several seminaries and other institutions, and writing nearly thirty books. His message was a plea for social justice and a call for religious tolerance and Christian unity. Burghardt taught theology at Woodstock College for nearly thirty years. For more than fifteen years thereafter he taught successively at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and Catholic University of America, then at Georgetown University until 1990, where he also served as a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center until 2003. But Burghardt was also a charismatic preacher. As the founder of Preaching the Just Word in 1991 (when he was already nearly eighty years old), he expanded a forty-year history of workshop presentations into an international journey as a leader of religious retreats for priests and other church functionaries. Burghardt also maintained a forty-five-year connection with the Jesuit periodical Theological Studies, as managing editor from 1946 to 1967 and editor in chief from 1967 to 1990; two years later he cofounded the journal Living Pulpit. Burghardt's long life of service was acknowledged by dozens of honorary degrees and other awards, including the Cardinal Spellman Award of the Catholic Theological Society of America, the St. Francis de Sales Award from the Catholic Press Association, and the William Toohey Award for Distinguished Preaching from the University of Notre Dame. His many books reflect his commitment to God and love for man. They include Seven Hungers of the Human Family (1976), Dare to Be Christ: Homilies for the Nineties (1991), Preaching the Just Word (1995), To Be Just Is to Love: Homilies for a Church Renewing (2001), and Justice: A Global Adventure (2004).



Burghardt, Walter J., Long Have I Loved You: A Theologian Reflects on His Church, Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY), 2001.


Los Angeles Times, February 26, 2008, p. B10.

New York Times, February 21, 2008, p. A20.

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Burghardt,, Walter J. 1914-2008 (Walter John Burghardt)

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